Integrated Services for Social Media Management, Monitoring, and Moderation
By Matthew Lees
We all — both as individuals and as organizations — are still figuring out how to deal with social media…how to use it effectively both personally and professionally (without letting it become too much of a time sink), how to make it work hand-in-hand with the other things we do, how to know when there's something we should know about going on, how to know when just to listen and when (and how) to jump in, and how understand and (ideally) measure its effects.
To help with all this, a cottage industry has sprung up around social media management, monitoring, and moderation. It's part content management, part market research, and part CRM, but it's all about (1) helping organizations get a handle on what's happening throughout the social Web and (2) make it easier for them to deal with it.
The Social Web = social sites and networks throughout the Internet where your customers, prospective customers, users, subscribers, and others are = blogs + Twitter + Facebook + YouTube + MySpace + Technorati + Delicious + LinkedIn + …
In recent years, organizations have been making good headway launching, growing, and getting value out of their branded communities. (These are online communities that are sponsored and run by organizations to support, engage with, and learn from their customers.) As the interest in, and adoption of, branded communities increases, so does the need for integrating them with the greater social Web, where conversations and interactions between and among your customers are also happening.
Managing, monitoring, and moderating things on your own branded community as well as throughout the social Web can be a Herculean task. It sure would be nice to keep things simple. So, ideally, you'd want a single location…
1. to manage content both in your own community and throughout the social Web
2. to observe and monitor activity and sentiment throughout the social Web
3. to moderate conversations throughout the social Web, ensuring that content is appropriate and that environments are safe and comfortable
Three recent industry announcements and events speak to the ways in which technology providers are looking to meet these particular demands…
1. Lithium Makes Its Second Corporate Acquisition. Last week Lithium Technologies announced it is acquiring Scout Labs, a social media monitoring company. This is Lithium's second acquisition; in June, 2009 the company acquired Keibi Technologies. Bringing on board Scout Labs is a smart and timely play. While not the first such move in the industry — in January, Jive Software acquired social media monitoring start-up Filtrbox — it solidifies Lithium's position at the forefront of the industry by adding a social Web monitoring component to its already strong branded community analytics package.
Last year we gave Lithium's Social CRM platform high marks for content integration — it can pull relevant content from Twitter, for example, into the community and it can publish appropriate community content out to the Web, as well — but it hadn't yet been able to monitor and measure the activity and sentiment of conversations held outside the walls of the community. Acquiring Scout Labs gives it this capability, making Lithium's story more compelling, particularly to brand marketing and market research professionals.
2. "The Awareness Social Marketing Hub" Hits the Street. Earlier this month, social software vendor Awareness launched The Awareness Social Marketing Hub. The Hub is a single platform from which organizations can manage and monitor both their branded communities and their presence on the social Web. For example, from the Social Marketing Hub, you can, in one fell swoop, upload photos to Flickr, Facebook, and your own branded community. You can similarly post text to Facebook and Twitter, and video clips to Facebook, YouTube, and your community.
As an enterprise system, it goes miles beyond what apps such as HootSuite and TweetDeck can provide in terms of security, scalability, and functionality. We particularly like, for example, that the Hub lets you edit content or even unpublish it, should you wish to take something down. If you’re managing multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts, this feature alone could be a major time saver.
Awareness still deploys and supports branded communities, but its business focus is clearly on the Hub. With the increasing emphasis on leveraging the social Web for marketing purposes, we can see why.
3. LiveWorld Announces Facebook Moderation Tool. In April, social media marketing company and technology provider LiveWorld announced that its moderation capabilities now extend to Facebook. So brands with busy Facebook Walls don’t have to rely on Facebook's rudimentary tools to ensure a friendly user experience.
We’ve been impressed before with the breadth and depth of LiveWorld's moderation offerings; its Moderation Server is an integral part of its full-featured Community Center platform, but can also be used to moderate communities that live on other platforms. We’re not surprised, then, that the company is leading the charge towards a comprehensive, unified approach to moderating online conversations, wherever they may occur. The business benefit for LiveWorld's clients is that they are better able to manage both their customers' experiences and their own brand identities.
It's not that the social Web is a jungle in need of taming. It's more that, with the unprecedented scale of human interaction enabled by the social Web, organizations are looking for both tools and practices that help them successfully (and cost effectively) meet the needs of their customers as well as their own. The technology and service providers mentioned above, among others, are responding to the market and trying to anticipate what's next. While neither is an easy task, there's a lot of innovative thinking and activity taking place. And it seems clear that opportunities to help organizations manage, monitor, and moderate their social media efforts will only increase.